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Warriors Grind Out an Anxious Game 5 Win to Close Out Nuggets, Advance to Second Round

Stakes felt unusually high for a team leading 3-1 going into Game 5 last night, didn’t it? After losing Game 4 in Denver on SundayThe Golden State Warriors had three chances to finish the nuggets, but there seemed to be a sort of do-or-die mentality among the players and the 18,000-plus adoring crowd at the Chase Center on Wednesday.

“We have to come in with the attitude that we have something to prove and winning is a must,” said Klay Thompson after Sunday’s loss to the Nuggets. “Because a win from them and anything is possible. We come out on Wednesday with guns blazing.”

The Warriors earned a 102-98 win, eliminated the Nuggets and advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals against either the Memphis Grizzlies or the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though the Warriors were comfortably ahead of the series, it was a brave, character-boosting win.

Stephen Curry called the Chase Center several times last night to make his voice heard. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Nuggets came out with their gold-plated guns, too, and both teams battled each other through a difficult first half with low scoring and low goals – the narrow Warrior lead was between 2 and 5 points for most of the first and second quarters, with the Nuggets pulled out a small lead late. The game was tied at 48 at half.

Plagued by fouls in Game 4, the Warriors continued to send the Nuggets to the free-throw line in the first half last night. Aaron Gordon drove to the rim at will and seemed to earn a whistle for every drive he made, despite shooting just over 60% off the line. The Nuggets also had the boards and beat the Warriors 50-37 that night, with the lion’s share coming in the first three quarters. The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić put on another outstanding game, scoring 30 points and grabbing a phenomenal 19 rebounds.

Nikola Jokić and Aaron Gordon make their best impression of meerkats as they watch a three-pointer from Steph Curry race to the basket in the second half last night. (Steph took the shot.) (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

In the first round of the playoffs, the Warriors led the league in almost every offensive category, averaging 118 points per game and more than 51% from the field and 42% from three shots. However, last night wasn’t one of those high-octane offensive nights. After his first shots, Klay Thompson went 5-13 out of the field and 1-6 from three for 15 points on the night. Jordan Poole scored 8 points, his lowest total of the series, shooting 3-10 from the field.

By the end of the second half it was becoming clear that if the Warriors were going to take the W, it would have to be achieved in some other way – although goalscorers were of course still welcome.

Klay Thompson had his lowest-scoring game of the series last night against the Nuggets with 15 points, but he managed it in other ways – he had three assists, four steals and a block and became a rebound machine late in the game. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Did the Warriors have any other big producers who might have brought a few points to the board? Who was missing from the conversation?

“In every playoff game, there’s going to be grind-out quarters to end it where nothing’s pretty on offense,” Stephen Curry said at last night’s post-game press conference. “It’s just who can show their physicality, their IQ and pull it off.”

The Nuggets managed to open and close the third quarter, building a 10-point lead at one point. Steph got hot, hitting a series of threes as part of a Warriors 11-2 run to make it a one-point game and Nikola Jokić found himself in foul trouble early in the second half. But the so-called “non-Jokić minutes” didn’t matter, as his replacement, DeMarcus Cousins, was fatal off the bench. Cousins ​​had 19 points and shot 8-12 from the field and 2-3 from long range – including a buzzer-beater late in the third quarter to close a 10-3 nuggets run for a 78-70 lead to mark.

That was when the warriors’ defenses came alive.

After a foul in game 4, Draymond Green defended disciplined. He scored 11 points and had six assists, a steal and three blocks. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“We got stops and we stopped fouling,” Draymond Green said of the Warriors’ fourth-quarter performance. The Warriors also started to recover. Klay Thompson grabbed nine boards in yesterday’s game, more than doubling his productivity per game. The Warriors also scored some points: when the shot clock ran out with just under seven minutes left in game four, a wide-open Gary Payton II fired a three-pointer off the left wing.

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The Warriors took a two-point lead, and GP2 would have their most productive game of the series, scoring 15 points, shooting 6-8 from field and 3-4 from long range — with the biggest three-pointers yet will.

However, it was this defense that was the story of the fourth. The Warriors held the Nuggets to just six points for almost seven and a half minutes and hovered 2-4 points at the lead. However, “Joker” should read “Joker”; He had a quick excitement and the game was 90-90 with about two minutes to go.

It was 94-92, Warriors, with just under a minute and a half to go when what could be described as the game of the game went down. Steph cornered Klay, who drew an extra Nuggets defender, leaving Draymond with an open drive to the basket and what appeared to be a wide-open layup – but Draymond folded! With the shot clock at about seven seconds, the ball flew around the perimeter and eventually found Gary Payton outside the arc. He struggled with the pass and had to pick it off the ground and for a moment – two seconds on the shot clock – it looked like it would be a disastrous possession but GP2 lined it up and fired. . .

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Gary Payton II fired late in the fourth quarter last night and made a consistent three-point shot with the shot clock ticking to zero. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty images)

It was 97-92, Warriors, with a minute left. Jokić continued to prevail in the suit, quickly scoring two and cutting the lead to three. With about 45 seconds remaining, the Warriors were taking their time building up possession as Steph dribbled around the perimeter, then drove and landed a left-hander with 1.9 seconds on the shot clock…

He scored and by 99-94 the Warriors had essentially sealed the game.

With a layup with less than a minute left in Game 5 to put the Warriors five ahead, Steph Curry put the Nuggets to sleep in round one of the playoffs. (Photos by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“It’s yet another good reminder of how hard it is to win a playoff game, how hard it is to shut down the team, and just – you know – grapple with the nerves of everything because it’s so important is,” Curry said at the post-game press conference. Curry had 30 points with five rebounds, five assists and two steals. He shot 10-22 from the field and 5 of 11 of three. “It was fun, it was electric, it was loud. In the fourth quarter you could tell that there was a kind of collective fear at play [the building].”

Curry added: “Tonight was just a weird feeling because we haven’t been there for a while. I think we wanted it so badly that we got in our own way a bit. But we still remember how to do it. that’s a good feeling.”

It was nothing but respect after the Warriors eliminated the Nuggets last night. “I just said it [Nikola Jokić] Thanks for making me better,” Draymond Green said last night. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to play against someone so talented and capable. He’s an absolutely incredible player.” (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Grizzlies and Timberwolves play Game 6 in Minnesota tomorrow. Memphis leads the series 3-2; The winner plays against the Warriors.

Warriors Grind Out an Anxious Game 5 Win to Close Out Nuggets, Advance to Second Round Source link Warriors Grind Out an Anxious Game 5 Win to Close Out Nuggets, Advance to Second Round

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